Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Being Nice: Part 3

I know I will, throughout my day, need help unexpectedly. I will drop something under my desk. I will need something carted from my office to the board room, and back. Any of a thousand different things could happen where I would need to ask someone for help. A thousand different things that non-disabled people would not need help to do. Luckily for me it doesn't happen a lot, but in order to say that I've had to redefine 'a lot'. Once or twice daily, isn't a lot is it?

My strategy was to go to the 'designated kind person' route. I spoke to a couple of people at work who I really thought wouldn't mind. It was hard doing this because I can't think of a single person at work who would mind. Most probably I went with people I felt comfortable asking for help. I chose well, they agreed without question. That's when I really kind of discovered that once or twice daily may be a little closer to 'a lot' thank I'm good with.

Even so, I went with this system. Even if there was someone else I could ask, I'd wait for my designated kind person to come by, or I'd call for them. They were always good about it. But I noticed that those who were closer, or those of whom it would have been more natural to ask for help, seemed to wonder why they had been excluded from the request.

I had been exploiting the kindness of a couple people because of my discomfort in asking other people. I laid it all on them. I know, I know, I know, it didn't bother them and, in fact, they seemed to enjoy helping out, but that didn't matter. It wasn't their help I was using, I was using them to avoid asking others. I was using them when I didn't need to ... a kind of exploitation of their niceness.

Well, a couple weeks ago I stopped doing that. Nice does not mean, up for exploitation. Nice does not mean being on an exclusive list to be helpful. Nice does not mean 'use me'.

So, as I joke about this, "I spread the joy around." I was right, everyone at the office is nice about it. No one minds giving a quick hand. And two people are no longer on the hook for my every single need, it's shared around by who's around. It was hard for me to start asking others, there's a vulnerability in acknowledging need and accepting help, but I needed to do something to ensure that someone's niceness doesn't land them the responsibility of meeting every single need for help that I have.

Nice has boundaries.

Nice should never be exploited. (even by me)

Nice should always have the ability to say, 'No'. (even to me)

2 comments:

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

I'm tempted to say it's nice of you to be nice about sharing the opportunities to be nice to you with a bunch of nice people and not just your designated nice people, but I'm a writer, and I should be able to do better than that.

It's just that nice is such a nice word.

Emily and Laura said...

Dave, my dad had Parkinson's, and as he became more and more disabled, he had to learn how to do things for himself. Yes, my mom was there to help him 24/7 -- but he wanted some independence. So he learned all kinds of things and had an assortment of tools he could use.

I think I've inherited his stubbornness. Like him, I've had to learn a variety of ways to do things myself that are nowhere as easy as they used to be. If you want to be truly independent and not depend on all the nice people you work with, have you explored ways to do all these different things yourself? I'm sure you have; I'm just suggesting that creativity goes a long way towards independence. And you're a very creative person. I'm willing to bet that at least a portion of what you ask for help on are things you could ultimately figure out how to do for yourself, even if you do have people ready and willing to jump in and give you a hand. The satisfaction more than makes up for the aggravation of learning a new way to do things.